Saturday, October 12, 2013

HI-02: Fix The Debt? Or Fight For Progressive Values?


Tulsi Gabbard positioned herself as the progressive candidate in last year's race to represent Hawai`i's 2nd Congressional District. She accurately and successfully tagged her main rival, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, as anti-choice and anti-gay and, with strong backing from liberals, easily won last summer's Democratic primary. She faced no serious opposition in the general election.

A Republican has never represented HI-02. Indeed, the district has a strong progressive pedigree. Legendary Congresswoman Patsy Mink co-founded the Progressive Congressional Caucus while representing the district. Blue Dog Ed Case briefly held the seat, stemming from his anomalous win in a special election following Mink's unexpected death. The seat was then held for three terms by Mazie Hirono, who became Vice-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, before being elected to the Senate in 2012. By any measure, this is one of the nation's bluest districts.

Most observers naturally expected Gabbard to follow in the footsteps of Mink and Hirono and join the CPC. She hasn't. Instead, she's enjoying D.C. fame as a mushy centrist, with one of the most conservative profiles of any House Democrat and already earning recognition as a DNC Vice-Chair. Gabbard has joined fellow freshman Kyrsten Sinema as a leading congressional supporter of the right-leaning, Social Security-hating, bipartisanship-worshiping No Labels organization.

At least Sinema represents a swing district. What's Gabbard's rationale? Sure, she's getting love from the Betway crowd. But do conservative white men Evan Bayh, Jon Huntsman, and Joe Manchin represent the values of the diverse group of voters who put her in office?

Gabbard's voting record makes it clear she'll never join the CPC and actually is a more likely candidate for the New Democrat Coalition. Progressive Punch ranks her at 171 among 200 House Democrats.

Gabbard's record is even more conservative than New Dem Chair Ron Kind and fellow Hawai`i Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a New Dem stalwart (who's also more conservative than warranted by her district, HI-01).

Nobody in the Hawai`i press corps has mentioned Gabbard's out-of-step voting record. And no names have been floated as potential primary challengers-- yet.

Hawai`i is arguably the nation's most Democratic state, giving Obama 80% of the vote in both elections (a larger percentage than anywhere but the District of Columbia). How did it end up with No Labels and New Dem representation in the House? Should the warning signs about Gabbard been given more serious consideration? The press said she went on a "leftward journey," and the voting public believed it.

More important, will any progressives step up to replace Hanabusa (who's leaving her seat to run for the Senate against liberal Sen. Brian Schatz) or challenge Gabbard? State legislator Chris Lee perhaps?

Patsy Mink never stopped fighting-- from fighting for the right to take the bar exam as a woman to fighting to end the Vietnam War, from fighting to pass Title IX to fighting to challenge the 2000 presidential election results. Meanwhile, armed with an endless stream of "moderate" cliches and false equivalence, No Labels, with help from the current holder of Mink's seat in Congress, is calling for an end to "fighting" in Congress.

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At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The situation is probably even worse than this post indicates.

She campaigned on Social Security and Medicare and criticized her opponent for supporting Simpson-Bowles:

"... Gabbard opposes cuts to Medicare and Social Security (both of which could happen under the Simpson-Bowles plan that Hanneman says he supports)."

Yet just a couple of months after taking office, she signed Patrick Murphy's letter calling for a Grand Bargain:

And then she met with the actual Simpson and Bowles:

Even as the nation spirals toward default, she's still clamoring for a Grand Bargain:

She's fully committed to this stuff, even founding the self-described "post-partisan" Congressional Future Caucus (along with some anti-choice Republican white men:

It's a Kuster-like betrayal.


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